NO MORE TICKETS TO RIDE
For this baby boomer, travel no longer holds an allure
OK, here goes: I hate travelling.
It’s outright boomer heresy to say so, for if the world has been our oyster, as we are interminably reminded, why on Earth would anyone so blessed be so cavalier in shucking off the opportunity to explore it fully?
After all, travel is meant to enrich us, enlighten us, expose us to culture and humanity and the illumination that as a people, despite our differences from one border to the next, we are one. To travel, goes the inculcation, is to experience life.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
Here’s why I hate it. Not that I always did. Just that I do now.
Where once planes, trains and automobiles were the passport to new adventures, today the skies, rails and roads no longer hold that magical lure to uncharted territory.
Getting there, getting anywhere, is now mostly a crushing chore. Security checks, patdowns, unruly masses, pricey hotels, cramped airless planes, trashy trinkets, bed bugs, jammed freeways, pickpockets and armed guards. Why would I want to sleep in a bed, much less on a pillow, previously used by hundreds of strangers? And when was it ever safe to go out in the woods?
So to say this without sounding spoiled and crotchety: Travel is exhausting. And just not fun anymore.
But that’s just me. My best friend is imbued with lifelong wanderlust, and her curiosity and profession have taken her most everywhere on the planet, from the cities of Kazakhstan to the jungles of Borneo.
She is my travel conscience, stirring up my guilt at not wanting to expand my limited horizons, and to that end, she’s always trying to coax me along. Sometimes, she’s even successful, and I have climbed onboard as we traipsed off to London and Paris, Nova Scotia and Puerto Vallarta, for they were wonderful trips all.
And I am eternally grateful for those experiences, and for her shameless attempts at tricking me into others like it, for I am nothing but lucky to have such a friend.
But I am done with the travelling.
It’s easier to say so, of course, because I have clocked many miles in my 67 years, having traversed much of Canada, the U.S. and Europe. There has been Mexico and Hawaii and even the North Pole.
I have wandered through Georgia O’keeffe’s house in Abiquiú, stumbled on a wild polar bear in Churchill, slept on a Mykonos beach, eaten curry on Carnaby
Street, blasted through the Everglades on an airboat, wolfed down cod cheeks in Newfoundland, floated along the Seine, and communed underwater with a manatee in Florida.
I have seen the Mona Lisa, Rosetta Stone and the Smithsonian’s magnificent T-rex.
I have humbly traced my finger on the names etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and sat in hushed silence on the edge of the hole where once stood the Twin Towers.
I have stretched out in Elvis Presley’s sauna and shared fresh baguettes and red wine with my late ex-husband on a topless beach in Nice.
But I have never been to India, Scandinavia, China, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Russia, South America or Australia. And I’m OK with that.
Perhaps it’s my creeping sense of mortality, something blissfully unfamiliar to the 20-somethings, whose world rightly seems so much bigger than it really is.
Perhaps I never embraced the popular romanticism of rounding a different corner or, as I grow older, I just prefer the simplicity of routine and the comfort of home.
So, even as the world begins to awaken from its latest crisis, even as international borders are repositioning their welcome mats, I will mostly stay put (although I will never give up Palm Springs), instead falling back on the best memories of travels past.
For it’s time now to leave discovery to those who follow in my footsteps, to those for whom parts unknown lie tantalizingly ahead.
Where once planes, trains and automobiles were the passport to new adventures, today the skies, rails and roads no longer hold that magical lure to uncharted territory. Shelley Fralic
For Shelley Fralic, third from left, travel is now more exhausting than a fun adventure. She’s seen here with friends in Paris in 2011.